It’d been over a year since we talked. When I think about it I realize how really out of hand things got. About a year and a half ago I was working for a great friend of mine. We’d worked together for about three years at a fabulous restaurant called North Star in Westchester County, NY where he was the executive chief and I the over baring but ridiculously talented ‘celebrity’ waitress. We were a family more then a staff but he had to move on and I got it. We stayed in touch when he decided to leave and pursue other goals, about a year before I left to go back to school. He is an amazing chief, a CIA graduate, brilliantly talented and I adored him, I respected him. His crazy texts and emails always made me laugh out loud. I went back to school and he went on living with his girlfriend and worked as a private chief for a family in Greenwich, CT. Then, last year he decided the time was right for, ummm, many things. He got engaged, they brought a house together and he opened up a restaurant of his own; flat out the most AMAZING brick oven pizzeria around, located in Danbury, CT. Stanziatos is what he called it, a combination of his and his fiancees last names. From the start it was a labor of the heart. He knew I needed extra money after I graduated in 2010 so he gave me a few shifts. I loved working for someone I believed in. On occasion my son would come with me and bus tables. Douglas LOVED the comradery of the kitchen staff and making a few bucks all by himself. I enjoyed working for my friend but tension grew. He was stressed because of EVERYTHING going on in his life and I was stressed because of my finances. One night tensions ran high and when a heated shift was finished I went home and wrote him an email. I wasn’t really just an email it was an all out verbal attack. I didn’t think or filter what I said I just spewed in print and sent it off. All my anger, all my hurt, all my frustration right there, unadulterated in the email. I expected an argument, a retort of some sort. I never heard from him again. After that night I lost his friendship and despite how angry I was because of that evening I never stopped respecting him. I missed him. I don’t call many people ‘Friend’ but those I do I love with my whole self. He was my friend and it felt horrible to loose him.
You all know very well what my story has been for the past seven months. You’ve also heard a sprinkling of what my life has been like since childhood so I don’t really have to catch you up on much. I wasn’t in any position to reconnect with anyone until Fall of this year (well, technically last year, but I haven’t gotten used to it yet- at any rate, fall of 2011). He was in my heart but I was always fearful of what he might say after that email. Actually Douglas had mentioned a number of times us going up to Stanziatos for dinner (Yeah, it’s a not so subtle plug- Once you taste his food you’ll understand, it’s just addicting) but I refused. Douglas knew we had fought and I told him honestly that I didn’t know if just walking in would be appropriate after being absent for so long. Still, reconciliation remained on my mind so last night I finally got up the courage to write my friend another email of a completely different kind. It was an apology and an admission that I should have handled myself differently. What I did was wrong. He was my friend not just my boss and because of that he deserved better treatment from me. I laid it all out. I missed him and felt stupid for what I had done. I didn’t know if he wanted to speak to me again but it was important for me to let him know that I always thought of him fondly and still had so much respect for him. And I sent it off. I was scared he wouldn’t respond. He responded immediately. And it was all good. His email made me smile like they always had. He was happy to hear from me. My pride, my fear had been stupid and I think Douglas and I will pop in sometime next week.
What I’ve learned from this tale of redemption is simply this: friendship really is a two way street. All good relationships are. If someone really cares about you they don’t stop caring because of anger or hot headedness. They keep on caring even if they need to take space. I kept caring. That’s why I had to take responsibility for the way I’d treated him. He was my friend and deserved much more from me. But because he was my friend he was willing and happy to forgive me. “All water under the bridge” he said. He hadn’t stayed mad at me. He’d let things go. I was happy to have my friend back. I was happy to have been wrong and to have admitted it. These kinds of risks, the healing kind, are the most worthy. Had he not returned my email, had he never wanted anything to do with me again, I would have felt better just by giving him what I owed him, a show of respect. Of course, I’m much happier to have our friendship restored. And more, I’m happy to be able to eat at his place again. I’ve been craving one of his salads… damn! So badly!!! And now, I’m gonna be able to dawg down with an untwisted stomach. Much praise to the new year. Things are looking good!